Write Here, Write Now: The Reunion by Megan Anderson

In Season 2 of Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast, host Erica Wagner interviews winners of the Vocal+ Fiction Awards

By Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal PodcastPublished 4 days ago Updated 4 days ago 4 min read
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Write Here, Write Now is back with Season 2

Swipe left, swipe right- it’s a match. Settle in at a wine bar back table for a Tinder date that’s doomed from the start. Meg Anderson’s take on a classic revenge tale won’t end quite the way you might expect.

Trigger Warning: This story deals with sexual assault.

What was the impetus for your winning story? Walk us through your initial act of creation.

The Reunion started out as a black comedy about a woman on the dating circuit who murders people who misuse their apostrophes.

It changed! As I started writing it, I was exploring what background might have led her to commit these gruesome deeds. I found myself imagining a childhood in which she endured abuse like so many kids do. It got me riled up. I really wanted her to have her revenge – but in such a way that she wouldn’t be punished for it. I was thinking of all the women who, despite the outpourings of the #MeToo movement, will never tell their stories and never get justice. This woman, hardened by her early experiences, takes matters into her own hands, subverting a trope in the process.

So the story got a lot more serious and spiky than I first envisaged – and in the end it had nothing to do with grammar. I’m pleased to say that the apostrophes do make a cameo, though.

What does it take for a story to grab you? How do you grab your audience?

I’m not the most forgiving of readers, so a first line has to work really hard. If I’m hooked by the end of the first paragraph, a story has done most of its heavy lifting. I want it to feel surprising, bold, playful, ambitious, with a compelling voice. It should pose a question I want to have answered.

I try to write like that too. I work really hard on openings. A lot of time gets spent there, which can hold up progress, but if I can’t interest myself at the start I can hardly expect anyone else to stay with it.

I fuss a lot over endings, too. I love endings that feel satisfying but not predictable, intriguing but not too open-ended. It’s hard!

Sadly I’m not one of those writers who can tear through a rough first draft and then go back and make it good. I finesse a lot as I go, which takes forever. But the opening – and the final lines – get the most attention.

Who are your favorite writers and why?

I’m a long time fan of Helen Garner, an Australian writer who artlessly evokes the human condition. Elizabeth Strout is also brilliant at making the everyday quite luminous. David Sedaris makes me laugh. Lorrie Moore’s short stories are muscular and clever. I really love Amor Towles for his wit and wonderful characters. And I would happily read John Boyne’s shopping list – he’s hilarious.

How has sharing your writing, in life and on Vocal, affected you as a Creator?

Deadlines, for one; they’re helpful. The generous Vocal Challenge prizes are also a huge incentive. They’ve helped me to generate work that I might not otherwise have written. Plenty of my pieces have not been successful, but some of them have been developed and published elsewhere. I find it really useful to write to a theme or prompt. It helps narrow down the endless possibilities that can sometimes leave me paralysed.

Writing for an audience is an incentive in itself. Knowing there’s stiff competition for people’s attention makes me push myself to be original – dismissing the first thing that comes into my head and trying to go deeper. That’s the constant challenge and fun of writing.

What advice do you have for other Creators?

Specific writing advice:

It’s hard to imagine any piece of writing that can’t be improved by torching most of its adverbs. Especially in fiction. Good writing should reveal the thing that adverbs clunkily describe. Trust your reader to get it. No character needs to angrily say something or tentatively walk somewhere. There’s usually a better way to convey it. Try it! Feel a fresh breeze come in!

General advice:

If you want to write, do it. Carve out time (steal it from ‘Netflix and Chill’ if needs be) to build stories. Print them out. Read them aloud. Let them simmer for as long as possible before revisiting them fresh. Edit brutally; less is almost always more. Keep doing it. Find yourself a trusted reader who will show you what you can’t see. All of this puts you in a position to submit the best work you possibly can. It takes effort, but I reckon that’s a deal worth making with yourself.

Also, keep fronting up for challenges and competitions even when you’re having no wins. I know that can be deflating, but try to get past it. I’ve been incredibly buoyed by having some success with Vocal Challenges, but I’m acutely aware that subjectivity and luck play a huge part. Good writers are missing out. To them, I say: keep going. I once submitted a story to a challenge that wasn’t successful. I reworked it for another – really overhauled it into a tighter, cleaner, clearer story – and it won! You never know how close you’re getting. If you believe in your own work and you’re putting in the hard yards to make it as good as it can be, you’ll find an audience for sure.

Stay tuned for new episodes of Write Here, Write Now Season 2 launching weekly.

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About the Creator

Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast

Sex, death, relationships, nature, families... If you like to stop, think and consider things a little differently, join host Erica Wagner as she introduces a new Vocal creator’s story each week.

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Comments (2)

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  • C. H. Richard3 days ago

    Excellent interview. I agree, when Meg says to keep going even when you don't win a challenge. Keep writing. I would also encourage new writers to join Facebook groups such as Vocal + Assist and Vocal Social Society to read other writers and get feedback.

  • Em Starrrrr3 days ago

    Another great interview. Some fantastic writing tips and insight here! Totally agree re adverbs...torch them all!

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